One of the best ways to show your kids that you care is to set aside some uninterrupted time with them each day – without an agenda – just some time to reconnect and catch up. According to MIT cognitive scientists, “back-and-forth exchanges help boost children’s brain response to language and that conversation is more important for brain development than ‘dumping words’ on them.”
Having a conversation with your kids on a regular can shine a light on how they are feeling, show you what is troubling them and what problems they may be facing. And having interactive exchanges with you helps them to practice their communication skills for all aspects of their lives. Here are some tips to assist you in establishing open channels of communication with the kids in your care:
- Set aside 20 minutes each day – no matter how busy you are, get into the habit of setting time aside to engage with your kids one-on-one. Put away devices, turn off the TV and start listening and talking. You can even use Kazutime to schedule quality time with your kids.
- Gently nudge them to talk – start with general leading questions and let the child dictate where the conversation goes. Be careful though not to turn the session into an “interview” – there’s no quicker way to make a child shut down.
- Be open to feelings – make it clear that the child is free to express whatever emotions they are feeling, including frustration, anger or fear. Understanding the different emotions is the first step in communicating their feelings in a healthy way.
- Don’t interrupt – let your child finish what they are saying before you respond. Not only does this encourage them to talk openly, it shows that you respect them and models what it means to be a good listener.
- Keep it simple – remember to use easy-to-understand language that is age-appropriate and clearly communicates what you mean, without talking down to them.
- Don’t judge – it’s very important that you avoid blame and criticism. This is especially important in building trust between you and your child and encourages honesty.
- Make eye contact – show your child that you take what they say seriously and that you are fully engaged with what they are saying. Make sure that you adjust to your child’s level to make them feel safer, more in control and important.
- Be positive – give your child positive feedback, even if they are expressing uncomfortable feelings or expressions of anger towards you. Thank them for being open and honest with you and for spending time talking with you. Show them that you enjoy and appreciate spending quality time with them.
Do you have any advice and tips on how to open channels of communication with kids that we haven’t yet covered? Comment below or contact us.